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Sustainable electricity


June 16, 2016   By Jay Hudson in Environmental Stewardship

This SEFA Group truck is loading a coal ash product at Santee Cooper’s Winyah Generating Station near Georgetown that will be used for industrial purposes and not landfilled.

What is sustainable electricity? There are many definitions of how to meet social, environmental and economic goals simultaneously (referred to as the “triple bottom line”). The issue with electric utilities is how to do this in a heavily regulated environment while producing reliable, affordable power delivered directly to the customer’s home or business 24 hours per day, every day. It’s a complex issue with many moving parts. 

The idea of sustainably is a simple one: Provide what is needed (electricity) to ensure the product remains viable and productive – ensure it is sustained. Santee Cooper is working on many of these moving parts. Just to highlight a few:

Renewable energy – Santee Cooper is South Carolina’s leader with 130 megawatts either online or under contract. From the first landfill gas site to the state’s largest solar array in Colleton County to a new community solar program, Santee Cooper is striving to develop renewable and sustainable electricity resources that make sense.

Internal programs to conserve resources – In 2015, all employees had a corporate goal to conserve electric use. This effort resulted in an annual savings of over 900,000 kilowatt-hours of electricity, enough to power 63 homes, 13,700 60-watt incandescent light bulbs or 82,300 LED bulbs for a year.  This corporate goal was part of the overall performance scorecard that also focused on waste reduction and environmental incidents. For 2016, the environmental scorecard has been expanded to include increasing fleet-fuel economy and reducing printing.

Beneficial use of ash and gypsum – All of the gypsum Santee Cooper produces is sold into either agriculture or cement, or is used to make wallboard. All of this quality gypsum is beneficially used in the agricultural industry, or it is used to make drywall. The agricultural industry uses gypsum to treat undesirable soil conditions and to improve crop performance. Fly ash from coal combustion is also sold for use in redi-mix concrete or cement manufacturing. Santee Cooper is also mining ponded ash from older impoundments at closed coal-fired stations in Moncks Corner and Conway where it is being used in cement manufacturing. 

Santee Cooper will continue to pursue programs that match the triple bottom line while continuing our reputation for producing affordable, reliable electricity.